In the United States, more than 1.5 million fractures are attributed to osteoporosis (otherwise known as bone loss) every year. Many people think that it is a condition that only affects people over the age of 70, but osteoporosis is now known to affect people at much younger ages. However, it can be prevented before it becomes serious.
Osteoporosis occurs when the cells that build bone matter are slower to replicate than the cells that remove bone matter, leaving empty spaces in the bones and making them vulnerable to fractures and breaks. The frightening part is that often a person does not know they are suffering from osteoporosis until a minor fall ends up causing a serious fracture. Bone growth peaks in our late twenties, so by starting to build strong bones early in life, one can slow and even prevent bone loss.
Orange Juice Does a Body Good Calcium and vitamin D are essential for bone health. Calcium is necessary to build and maintain bones and vitamin D is needed because the body cannot absorb calcium without it. Cow's milk has traditionally been credited as the best food for strong bones, but there are many people who have an adverse reaction to lactose. Another bonus? Orange juice is packed full of vitamin C, a potent antioxidant. Another source of vitamin D is exposure to a healthy amount of sun; the ultraviolet rays of the sun promote the production of vitamin D. However, be sure to limit direct sun exposure to thirty minutes or less daily, within two hours of sunrise or sunset to reduce your risk of skin damage.
Bone-Building Foods Your body absorbs important minerals better through whole foods. Calcium and vitamin D, essential for bone health, are found in chestnuts, clams, dark green vegetables, leafy greens, soybeans, and salt-water fish such as flounder, salmon, sardines, and shrimp. Quercetin, a potent antioxidant, promotes the action of bone-building cells and is found in green tea, red wine, and microalgae such as chlorella, blue-green algae and spirulina. Sulfur, phosphorus and other minerals that build healthy bones can be obtained from garlic and onions. Tofu, tempeh, pineapple, grapes, and dried plums also support bone health.
Calcium Supplements Calcium supplements along with weight-bearing exercise are necessary after age 35. As calcium can bind up the stools, find a supplement that is formulated with magnesium, preferably 1200 mg of calcium to 600 mg of magnesium. Calcium carbonate and liquid calcium in a citrate base are both good choices. As the body cannot absorb calcium all at once, take several doses during the day. Also try to take trace amounts of boron, copper, zinc, and vitamin B3.
Herbal supplements, such as my formula Dura-Bone, which is formulated to be used as a dietary supplement for the prevention of osteoporosis, can also be beneficial. Dura-Bone contains Eucommia, a well-known Chinese herb, which encourages bone restoration and prevents the aging of bones. As such, it is appropriate for young people, older adults, athletes requiring extra skeletal bulk, and ‘weekend athletes’ suffering from fatigue and lower back pain.
Build Up Bones with Exercises All the calcium and vitamin D supplements in the world won't make a difference if people aren't also engaging in activities that exert weight on the bones. Exercise early in life builds bone mass and strengthens the skeletal structure. Even later in life, regular exercise can slow the progress of osteoporosis. Moderate weight-bearing exercises, such as walking or tai chi, when practiced for 30 minutes three times a week, can sufficiently restore calcium to bones. Consider this: the bone fractures that come with osteoporosis are often due to falling. Aged people often lose their balance because of weak ankles. You can help prevent falls and fractures by exercising the muscles that keep you upright. Here's how:
- Sit in a chair and hold one leg straight out in front of you, parallel to the floor. Flex the top of your foot as far back toward the shin as is comfortable and hold for 15 seconds. Repeat this five times.
- Now rotate your foot clockwise in as wide a circle as possible, slowly and with isometric pressure, five times. Repeat with your foot moving in a counterclockwise direction.
- Repeat this whole set of exercises with your other foot. Perform these exercises three or four times a week to decrease your chance of a debilitating fall.
May you Live Long, Live Strong, and Live Happy!
--Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert. He has appeared regularly on Dr. Oz, the Doctors and EXTRA. Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica and Newport Beach. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni founded Tao of Wellness over 25 years ago in addition to also founding Yo San University in Marina del Rey. To subscribe to his tip-filled newsletter please visit www.taoofwellness.com. To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310-917-2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at
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